The Tornado of 1933

Click here for a Newspaper accounting of this storm!

Letter from James Madison (J.M.) Garner to Aunt Nan (written in pencil)
Return address: J.M. Garner / Russell Spgs Ky
Postmarked May [?12] __AM 1933 (badly blurred)
Addressed to Mrs. J.S. Williams / Faubush Ky

Russell Spgs Ky
May 11, 1933
Mrs. Nan Williams

My Dear sister, We have just eat supper, and I thought I would write
you. We are all as well as could be expected, considering what we have
went through. We have witnessed the worst cyclone, that ever hit Ky.
Both of our barns were blown away, our hen house blown off the
foundation. Our mules cow and hog were all in the barns but neither of
them hurt.

[page 2] I will just try to tell a little of it, can't tell it all nor
any one else can. We went to our cellar, although our house was not
damaged except one window pane & 5 brick blown away. Mr. Blankenship our
nearest neighbor's house, two barns, all out buildings, him, his wife
and a orphant boy were blown away, all wrecked together about the cinter
of where the barn stood. Words can't express this. We came out of our
cellar and could hear the aughful cries. We went through a torrant [page
3] of rain and electricity to there aid. We took a cot and carried Mrs.
Blankenship to our house. She live about 2 hrs, took Mr. Blankenship to
the hospital yesterday eve. Mr. Ray Folley's house, barn, and entire
family live just the other side of us from Mr. Blankship were blown
away, they are all in the hospital. We can stand 300 yds from our house
and see where 3 or four houses were blown away. The hotel [and]
Methodist church are both being used for [page 4] for hospitals. I have
no idea how many wonded there are in the hospitals. You can see
clothing, lumber, pieces of chairs, anything most in fields, woods are
[sic] any where in its path. Willie's family are here. It never struck
them. Willie come when he heard of it. We got him to go back and get
Edith and Irene. He is helping us on our barn. There were about 10 men
helped us some this evening. Our mules are at Martin Wilson's, our cow
and hog are outside, could not find [page 5] our cow tonight, there is
no fence left. We sure have something to be thankful for by our lives
being spared. I would like for you all to come and visit us, and see
some of the aughful disaster. But I do hope you may never witness any
thing like it. I will quit, can't start to tell any of it. With love to
you all, I remain Your Bro.            /s/ J. M Garner


I've heard Granny Garner talk a lot about the tornado that hit the
evening of May 9, 1933. She and a neighbor had walked to town and back
that afternoon. She always said it was really hot and very still, and,
"Oh, it just felt so lonesome". That evening, about the time the storm
started, Denny Ray Thomas and perhaps another fellow stopped by the
house. They wanted Uncle Woodrow to go with them to some kind of to-do
at the Russell Springs high school. Grandpa and Granny Garner talked
them out of it, and a short time after that, the worst of the storm
started. Everyone went thru the rain to the outside cellar at the back
of the house. Granny was the last to go in, and a gust of wind caught
the cellar door and it hit her head. Uncle Leo remembered Uncle Hobert
holding a dough board over a broken window to keep the rain out of the
room where they had taken Mrs. Blankenship. It was the front room on the
left as you faced the house. Granny also talked about a big maple tree
just across the road being rootwadded by the storm, and either she or
Daddy told that some glass jars on a fence on the right side of the
house weren't touched. At that time, Martin Luther Wilson and his family
lived where Ruth and Otis Stephens later bought, near where the
Blankenships lived. Martin thought the world was ending. "Uncle" Nath
and Prudy Blankenship's house stood near the Dr. Charles Peck residence
(1999). I believe (but can't recall for sure) that the "orphant boy"
Grandpa referred to in the letter was a Grant.